Solidarity Wins

SEIU, which had been negotiating a deal with Airbnb, announced that the talks were off.

The agreement would’ve had Airbnb promoting unionized cleaning services and supporting a $15/hour minimum wage in exchange for an official endorsement by SEIU. Not only was it being done without knowledge by other unions, but those unions were adamantly against it.

The argument in favor was that SEIU was doing what it was supposed to: Working for their members. But that’s an incredibly short-sighted and narrow position to take.

San Francisco (the city in which the deal was being worked) has been facing a serious problem in affordable housing. Part of that problem is due to Airbnb, whose business model encourages the removal of residential housing from the market.

This is a classic case of the chickens inviting the fox into the henhouse. Or more precisely, the chickens letting the fox kick them out and renting the shed for a tidy profit.

Thankfully, it seems other unions got SEIU to see the light. What good is getting people $15/hour when it’s going to be eaten up by higher housing costs anyway? Not to mention that $15/hour is being treated like some huge windfall when it’s really just wages catching up with reality.

And what’s really key here is that it was a bad deal. Airbnb’s “promotion” of unionized services would be just that. Home “sharers” would be under no obligation to use SEIU members, and a union endorsement of Airbnb would be worth a lot more to Airbnb than anything Airbnb would’ve done to “support” a higher minimum wage.

Unions aren’t required to stand together, but history has proven time and time again that a union is stronger when it works with other unions. They all stand together, or they all fall together.

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